The 2009 Formula One World Champion Jenson Button will drive alongside 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton for McLaren in an all-English line-up next season. Adamo Digby looks at the move and wonders if the current champion might have made a mistake in choosing what some view as Formula One's most difficult seat.
So picture the scene. You are Formula One's top driver, just crowned World Champion and have the coveted No. 1 on your car for the season. You are the best in the business. You chose to move teams for a new challenge, joining McLaren Mercedes as you feel they offer the best opportunity to win again.
Yet from minute one, you are not treated as number-one. The team you should be leading belongs to someone else. The other driver is king here, loved, honoured and obeyed. The car, the racing suits, the seats all designed to bring out the best in a driver you know you are better than. You have nothing to prove to anyone, yet he rules this particular kingdom. You're new, he's been a part of the team, the McLaren family since he was a child.
This is not hearsay or speculation on what Jenson Button may face next season, it's the story of Fernando Alonso's time in the Silver Arrow. Alonso joined Hamilton at McLaren for the 2007 season, as the reigning World Champion. He was offered no special treatment and the team deferred to Hamilton far more often than the Spaniard, who left after one season. He returned to an uncompetitive Renault, forced to prove himself again.
Yet Button seems to not to have learned from this mistake and has left Ross Brawn and his old team behind for the start of his title defence. He will already be at a serious disadvantage behind his new teammate, who knows the team inside out, and will have already have huge knowledge of next season's car.
Their driving styles are hugely different. Hamilton is a pure racer, going flat-out and hammering his car into corners and overtaking, while Button is probably F1's smoothest driver, fluid and rhythmical. All of which leaves you wondering how the team can hope to produce a car to suit both men, or if it will even try?
What the pairing of the last two champions does give us, however, is a fantastic, enthralling, engaging story. It is one which Formula One fanatics cannot help but become excited by, whichever way it happens to unfold throughout the season. It is one which will draw even more casual viewers to the sport and no doubt provide us with countless talking points over the next year.
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